It looks like the NBA is experimenting with micro-transactions, offering fourth-quarter game streams for only 99 cents. Over at The Verge, a basketball fan named Vasu Kulkarni shared a notification he received from the NBA app, offering a low-cost live stream at the end of the Miami-Oklahoma City Game.
— Vasu Kulkarni (@Vasu) March 24, 2018
The NBA has several different streaming options, from the pricey League Pass that offers every game all season long to the NBA Digital package that lets fans subscribe to certain teams or watch single games on a pay-per-view basis.
Presumably, this is some sort of marketing test tailored initially to a limited number of hardcore NBA fans. The NBA hasn’t responded to inquiries from The Verge about how widespread the pilot program is.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has expressed his interest in micro-transaction-fueled streaming broadcasts in the past. At the Consumer Electronics Show two years ago, he outlined plans to entice casual viewers with streaming broadcasts. “I think you’re going to get to the point where somebody wants to watch the last five minutes of the game, and they go click, they’ll pay a set price for five minutes as opposed to what they would pay for two hours of the game,” he said.
The push notifications could target local teams or, as Silver suggested, a possible record-breaking performance unfolding in a pivotal game.
Silver has been an outspoken fan of social media engagement and has championed efforts to attract younger viewers who often regard TV broadcasts as outdated as AM radio. At a Code Commerce event in New York, he cited a Twitch stream of a video game as inspiration, but also noted, “I think to a lot of older consumers, used to looking at sports, it might might look incredibly cluttered.”
Streaming is the future of sports broadcasts, and sports fans have empathetically indicated they’re willing to pay for it. With most sporting events running upwards of three hours, breaking it into more consumable chunks is a natural progression. It’s also an easier decision to spend a buck or two on the last few minutes or innings of a close game rather than subscribing to a season-long package.